Georges Bizet


Born: 1838   Died: 1875   Country: France   Period: Romantic
Known for one of the world's most popular operas, Carmen, Georges Bizet deserves attention as well for other works of remarkable melodic charm. Many of his works received cool receptions on their premieres but are now considered central to the repertory of classical music.

Bizet was born in Paris on October 25, 1838, and grew up in a happy, musical family that encouraged his talents. He learned to read music at the same time he learned to
Read more read letters, and equally well. Entering the Paris Conservatory before he was ten, he earned first prize in solfège within six months, a first prize in piano in 1852, and eventually, the coveted Prix de Rome in 1857 for his cantata Clovis et Clotilde. His teachers had included Marmontel for piano and Halévy for composition, but the greatest influence on him was Charles Gounod, of whom Bizet later said "You were the beginning of my life as an artist." Bizet himself hid away his Symphony in C, written when he was 17, feeling it was too much like its models, Gounod's symphonies. The two years spent in Rome after winning his prize, would be the only extensive time, and a greatly impressionable one, that Bizet would spend outside of Paris in his brief life. When he returned to Paris, he lost confidence in his natural talents and began to substitute dry Germanic or academic writing for his own developing idiom. He composed a one-act opera for production at the Opéra-Comique, but the theater's director engaged him to write a full-length opera instead, Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers). It was not a success at the time, but despite a few weaknesses, the work was revived in 1886, and its sheer beauty has earned it a respected position among the lesser-played operatic repertory. In 1863 Bizet's father bought land outside Paris where he built two bungalows, one of which Bizet frequently used as a compositional retreat. He began a friendship (apparently not a physical one) with a neighbor-woman named Céleste Mogador, a former actress, author, courtesan, circus rider, and dance-hall girl. She is said to have been the model for his masterpiece's title role of Carmen. Bizet earned his living as an accompanist and publishing house arranger. Meanwhile, he poured his creative efforts into an immense five-act opera in the grand tradition, Ivan IV, but it was never performed. This proved to be a pattern for the rest of his career. Bizet would work hard to get an opera produced, and even if he did, it would usually receive only a handful of performances. Bizet's corpus of unfinished works is large, and testifies to his unsettled existence and his difficulty in finding a place in France's notoriously hierarchical and conservative musical world. In 1869 Bizet married Geneviève Halévy, daughter of his teacher. The marriage did not turn out to be a happy one, primarily due to her family's history of mental illness. In 1872, Bizet's splendid incidental music for the play L'arlèsienne was poorly received, but when the composer assembled the music into an orchestral suite for a November performance, it found great acclaim. At last confident of his creative vision, Bizet was able to steer his final masterpiece through various obstacles, including the objections of singers and theater directors who were shocked by Carmen's subject matter. When the opera had its premiere on March 3, 1875, it was received barely well enough to hang on for future productions. Although it took audiences only a few weeks to catch on, Bizet died convinced it was a failure. Read less
Bizet: Carmen And L'arlesienne Suites / Batiz, Mexico Po
Release Date: 01/13/2009   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 93842   Number of Discs: 1
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Bizet: Complete Orchestral Works / Batiz
Release Date: 08/28/2012   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94404   Number of Discs: 3
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Bizet: Les Pecheurs De Perles / Oren, Rancatore, Albelo
Release Date: 01/29/2013   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94434   Number of Discs: 2
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Bizet: Carmen / De los Angeles, Gedda, Beecham
Release Date: 10/14/2016   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 557668   Number of Discs: 3
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Work: Carmen: Micaëla's Aria

Browse 51-58 of 58 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    Bizet: Carmen - Highlights / Lombard, Crespin, Py, Van Dam
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 13801 Release Date: 09/03/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Gilbert Py,  Régine Crespin,  Nadine Denize,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Alain Lombard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rhine Opera Chorus,  Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra,  St. Maurice Children's Chorus
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  • 52.
    Prima Voce - Farrar In French Opera
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7872 Release Date: 10/03/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jules Massenet,  Ambroise Thomas,  Charles Gounod,  Jacques Offenbach  ... 
    Performer:  Geraldine Farrar,  Fritz Kreisler,  Edmond Clément,  Antonio [Baritone Vocals] Scotti  ... 
    Conductor:  Walter B. Rogers,  Arturo Toscanini
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  • 53.
    Prima Voce - Eames & Plancon
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7860 Release Date: 12/06/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Franz Schubert,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Pol Plançon,  Emma Eames,  Louise Homer,  Emilio de Gorgoza  ... 
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  • 54.
    Lebendige Vergangenheit - Elisabeth Rethberg
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89051 Release Date: 11/29/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Umberto Giordano,  Hubert Patáky,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Elisabeth Rethberg,  Richard Tauber
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  • 55.
    Bizet: Carmen (Highlights)
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8550727 Release Date: 01/28/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Doina Palade,  Giorgio Lamberti,  Alan Titus,  Graciela Alperyn
    Conductor:  Alexander Rahbari
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak State Philharmonic Chorus,  Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra Bratislava
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  • 56.
    Prima Voce - Divas 1917-1939 / Ponselle, Galli-curci, Norena
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 1795 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Anonymous,  Gabriel Fauré,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Eidé Noréna,  Amelita Galli-Curci,  Tito Schipa,  Giuseppe de Luca  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chorus
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  • 57.
    Prima Voce - Eidé Norena
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7821 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  George Frideric Handel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Eidé Noréna
    Conductor:  Piero Coppola,  Joseph Messner,  Henri Défosse
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  • 58.
    The Early Years - Leopold Simoneau, Pierrette Alarie
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 438953 Release Date: 12/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Léo Delibes,  Charles Gounod,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Pierrette Alarie,  Léopold Simoneau
    Conductor:  Bernhard Paumgartner,  Pierre Dervaux,  André Jouve
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
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